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Martial's character Pliny the Younger, in the short tribute which he pays to him on hearing of his death, wrote, "He had as much good-nature as wit and pungency in his writings" (Ep. iii. 21). Martial professes to avoid personalities in his satire, and honour and sincerity (fides and simplicitas) seem to have been the qualities which he most admires in his friends. Some have found distasteful his apparent servile flattery to the worst of the many bad emperors of Rome in the 1st century. These were emperors Martial would later censure immediately after their death (xii. 6). However, he seems to have disliked hypocrisy in its many forms, and seems to be free from cant, pedantry, or affectation of any kind.

Though many of his epigrams indicate a cynical disbelief in the character of women, yet others prove that he could respect and almost revere a refined and courteous lady. His own life in Rome afforded him no experience of domestic virtue; but his epigrams show that, even in the age which is known to modern readers chiefly from the Satires of Juvenal, virtue was recognized as the purest source of happiness. The tenderest element in Martial's nature seems, however, to have been his affection for children and for his dependents.


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Martial's character
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